New Google Maps for Android Gets Experimental

    December 7, 2009
    Chris Crum

Google released Google Maps 3.3 for Android today, which lets users find nearby businesses, try new experimental "Labs" projects, and report problems with map data from their phone.

Users can check to see what businesses are nearby at anytime, by simply long-pressing on the map, tapping the bubble, and going to the option that says "What’s Nearby?". Users will get a menu that shows a business, and it can be clicked on to see more nearby places. The feature can also be accessed from the "My Location" menu or from address search results.

What's Nearby?

"When you’re meeting friends, it’s a great way to find the nearest shops, cafes, or other places to get out of the cold," says Google software engineer Elliot Schwartz.

Google Maps for Android has its own Labs set of experiments now, just like Google Labs and Gmail Labs. Current experiments include the following features:

– display a scale bar on the map, to get an idea of how far apart things on the map are

– show a terrain layer, to help plan your hike or cross-country ski trip

– search for popular categories, so you never have to type in "Vietnamese restaurant" or "bowling alleys" again

– turn the blue My Location dot into a compass arrow that shows the direction you’re facing when stationary

– add a Layers button to the screen so you can quickly toggle layers like Traffic, Satellite, Latitude, and Transit Lines

With the new Google Maps for Android, anytime a user finds something in the real world that doesn’t match the map on their phone, they can instantly report it to Google.

"One of the advantages of using Google Maps on your phone is that you automatically use our latest map and business data downloaded over your phone’s Internet connection," says Schwartz. "But keeping up with real world changes is a challenge, and sometimes our data isn’t up-to-date."

The feature can be used when stores are no longer at the location they’re supposed to be, or even if Google delivers you a wrong phone number for a business.

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